Upon first glimpse we had no clue what we were witnesses to.
But then again, how often do you see the back of a god’s head?
A little better. But it actually wasn’t until about two minutes in that we finally got our first Rudd closeup. What do you think of that, Paul?
Paul’s a little nonplussed. Heck, he’s too cool for school. At least high school anyway.
In his breakthrough role as Josh, in 1995′s “Clueless,” Rudd portrayed a college student intent on reading books and bedding beret-wearing betties. He didn’t have time for a non-driving virgin who was more concerned about her Alaia than peace in the Middle East.
Dude just wanted to read his Nietzsche.
While the film launched Rudd’s career and led him down the path of typical romantic comedy territory, starring in a string of passable but completely unmemorable films, there was something else under the surface.
In an interview conducted just months after the release of “Clueless,” writer/director Amy Heckerling was asked if any of the actors improvised material for their characters. Heckerling replied, “The character that played Josh, Paul Rudd, he had the kind of mind that could come up with funny lines that worked for his character. The other kids were pretty much following the script all the time.”
From the very beginning the seeds were there.
But who knew that this adorable young man would turn into the spread eagle Sex Panther of today?
Probably not even Paul Rudd himself.
Because he had yet to go through his Saturn Return.
At the time of our birth, Saturn is at a particular point in the sky. It takes roughly 27-29 years for Saturn to return to that same location. As Saturn gets closer and closer to its original natal (or birth) position, it starts to exert more and more influence in our lives. If we’re on the wrong path, Saturn does its damnedest to get us on the right one. Some people can hang with this, others, more notably, cannot.
Many astrologers take a negative, almost fearful approach towards Saturn. They call it a limiter, a restricter, and a third unfavorable thing. And while Saturn can bring upheaval, hardship, and loss, it is all ultimately in service of helping us discover who we truly are, and what we would like out of life.
It’s not a coincidence that the Saturn Return takes place shortly before the passage into our thirties. In many cultures this is the true transition between adolescence and adulthood. It’s a time of letting go of things, people, beliefs, etc. that are not working, and leaning in to those that do. It’s about following through with what feels right to you and deciding what kind of impact you can make in this world.
If we are resistant to the change that Saturn brings, that’s when the problems arise. It’s the time when a soul-crushing job unexpectedly comes to an end, or a boring relationship mercifully meets its demise, or friends that we no longer need drop out of our lives altogether. The losses can be painful, but the thing to remember is that Saturn is simply clearing out all the dead wood in order to make room for everything else to come. All of a sudden people will enter our lives, passions will be ignited, and when we follow it through to its logical conclusion, we suddenly find what we we are looking for.
And for Paul Rudd, everything changed when he met Zak Orth.
Of course, it didn’t change overnight. Rudd and Orth met on the set of Baz Lurhmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.” The two New York actors got on well and later decided to hang out with some of Orth’s friends. In a great interview with Salon, Rudd detailed the encounter:
I went and saw a play that David Wain and [Joe] Lo Truglio and [Michael] Showalter and those guys were in and had written, called “SEX a.k.a. Weiners & Boobs,” and I met them and hit it off right away. Not that long afterward, they gave me the script for “Wet Hot American Summer,” and David said, “Read this. You like it?” It wasn’t set up anywhere. I read it, and I remember thinking, “This is the funniest script I’ve ever read,” and also thinking this is the first thing that I’ve read that really appealed to my own kind of sensibility. It had a fresh comic voice. It’s the only script that I ever read that I would keep around to reread just because it was so funny.
“SEX a.k.a. Weiners & Boobs,” made its stage debut in July of 1998, the same year that Rudd turned 29 and experienced his Saturn Return.
Three years later, “Wet Hot American Summer” had found financing and was released to a frigid critical reception and limited theatrical run. On DVD though, the film found its audience and quickly became a cult hit.
Rudd and Orth
In the film, Rudd portrays a bad attitude hunk named Andy. He’s insolent, petulant, and plays by his own rules – in short, catnip for all the ladies around him.
The film also marked the arrival of Elizabeth Banks
If you haven’t seen “Wet Hot American Summer,” then I don’t like you anymore. And not just because you taste like a burger. But because you’ve deprived yourself of one of the greatest comedic films of all time. Not to get hyperbolic, but Rudd’s performance, in which he taps into a reserve of silliness heretofore unexplored, is truly transcendent.
Rudd poses, postures, and mugs his way through the film in a role it seems he was born to play. It was a star-making performance, and while not many saw it initially, those that did were blown away.
One person it had an influence on was Adam McKay, Will Ferrell’s writing partner from SNL, who was going to make his feature film debut shortly. As Rudd told Salon:
After that, I think there was a little bit of a tidal shift in the way I was viewed in comedy circles, which before, I really wasn’t. In the sketch world, that movie had an impact. So by the time that I met Adam McKay a few years later, it was like, “Yeah, man. You were hilarious in ‘Wet Hot American Summer.’ That’s a great movie.” I think that probably played a part in me getting the role of Brian Fantana in “Anchorman.”
“Anchorman” in turn, led to “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” a film that allowed Rudd to really dig in to his nascent improvisational skills. “I loved working with these people,” Rudd said of the experience. “I loved working the way they worked, with improvisation and playing around, although there’s very little improvisation in ‘Wet Hot American Summer.’ I liked this style…To incorporate that style of work a little bit, it became really exciting, and things started to change for me.”
When we work together with Saturn, instead of fighting it, this is the kind of thing that happens. Opportunities are presented, jobs materialize, and suddenly we have a purpose.
The catch is that we have to put in the necessary work to realize it all.
Rudd was ready and willing when his time came, and he reaped the benefits. He quickly went from being a decent dramatic actor with a pretty face, to being rightfully recognized as one of the top comedic actors in the world.
And we are all the richer for it.
Now let’s dance!
Are you between the ages of 27-29 and experiencing major, life-altering changes and want to make sense of it? You’re probably going through your Saturn Return. Click here to book a consultation with me and we’ll discuss your Saturn Return in detail, and what it’s trying to tell you. I’ll also look at where all the planets are right now so you know what you have to look forward to.